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CoDec ARGenteus

and its printed editions

Lars Munkhammar

The Codex Argenteus – A General Presentation 2
The Project 4
The Goths, the Gothic Language and the Gothic Bible 6
The Mystery of the Thousand Years 10
Werden – Uppsala 13
Codex Argenteus – A Codicological Description 15
An Old Codex in a New Europe 24
Franciscus Junius 1665 28
Georg Stiernhielm 1671 35
Erik Benzelius 1750 38
Zahn’s Edition 1805 – Johan Ihre & Erik Sotberg 41
Gabelentz & Löbe 1836 43
Uppström 1854 & 1857 44
The Facsimile Edition of 1927 46
References 48

The Codex Argenteus – A General Presentation
University Library is the most comprehensive still existing
text in the Gothic language. It contains what is left of a deluxe
book of the four Gospels, an evangeliarium, written in the early
6th century in Northern Italy, probably in Ravenna, and
probably for the Ostrogothic King Theoderic the Great. The
text is part of Wulfila’s translation of the Bible from Greek
into Gothic, made in the 4th century.
The Codex Argenteus is written in silver- and gold-ink on very
thin purple parchment of extremely high quality. For a long
time it was alleged that the parchment was made from the skin
of new-born or even unborn calves, but modern research
shows that it was more likely made from the skin of kids. The
purple colour does not come from the purple snail but from
vegetable dyes. The silver text is predominant, which explains
why the book is called ‘the Silver Book’, or the Codex Argenteus.
Originally, it probably had a deluxe binding, decorated with
pearls and jewels. The writing surface on the leaves of the
manuscript has been filled according to the principle of the
Golden Section, i.e. the height is related to the width as the
sum of the height and width is related to the height. The four
arches at the bottom of each page are canon tables, one for each
evangelist. They contain a system of cross references to
passages of the gospels.
The Silver Bible was known in the 16th century, when it
was kept in the Benedictine Monastery of Werden near the
Ruhr. Before the year 1600, it came into the possession of
Emperor Rudolf II and was in Prague when the Swedes
captured the city in 1648. It was taken to Stockholm as part of
the enormous Swedish war booty. There it was incorporated
into Queen Kristina’s library. After the queen’s abdication, it
passed into the hands of one of her librarians, Isaac Vossius,

who took it to the Netherlands. From there, it was purchased
by the Swedish Chancellor Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, who
was also the Chancellor of Uppsala University. He donated it
to the university in 1669.
The codex originally consisted of at least 336 leaves. Of
these, 187 are extant in Uppsala. One other leaf (as far as we
know) has survived for posterity, in Speyer in Germany. It
was sensationally discovered in 1970 in the Speyer Cathedral
along with some hidden relics of a saint. This leaf, judging
from its format and other details, appears to have journeyed
along different paths than the other leaves before it came to
light again. The discovery of this leaf, which has been named
the ‘Haffner Leaf’ after its discoverer Franz Haffner, kindled
new life in the discussions of the fate of the Codex Argenteus
between 6th century Ravenna and 16th century Werden. A
history of more than a thousand years, which is mainly
shrouded in oblivion. This is The Mystery of the Thousand
Years. This mystery does of course stimulate our fantasy.
There are, however, beside fancies some facts as well as
qualified guesses and scientifically based theories about the fate
of the Codex Argenteus during this millennium.
There are several editions of the Silver Bible text. The very
first one, editio princeps, was published in the Netherlands in
1665. The standard edition was made by Uppsala professor
Anders Uppström in 1854 and 1857. The latest and most
important one is the facsimile edition made in 1927 using high-
tech equipment and the competence of Professor The[odor]
Svedberg and Dr. Hugo Andersson.

The Project
Gothic in the 4th century, there has been a striving to spread
and publish the Gothic Bible text. Wulfila himself had this
ambition, of course, and for his Bible translation he is said to
have constructed the Gothic alphabet. Many hundreds of years
later, when most of the manuscripts with Gothic Bible text
were drowned in History’s mud, the aim of publishing every
Gothic text line became very important. And since the Codex
Argenteus was the most comprehensive Gothic document still
extant, it became published in several editions over the
centuries. The reasons for editing the text have been of
different kinds over the years: religious, chauvinistic,
philological, and others. In the 18th century and later on, the
philological reasons have been predominant.
Scanning and publishing the Codex Argenteus and its editions
is a project originally meant to serve scholars and students of
philology interested in the Gothic language. But even
historians, archaeologists, and others interested in the Gothic
culture can benefit from the project, as well as everyone
curious about Gothic script and culture: tourists and pupils in
the ‘Silver Bible Room’ in Uppsala, the public in general,
thirsting for learning.
The inventor and initiator of the project is David Landau,
MA, MSc, in Tampere, Finland. In his master thesis at
Tampere University of Technology 2003, Digitizing Text
Heritage, he made a first plan and description of the actual
project in chapter 5 (pp. 23–30). At that time, Landau had
already scanned, coded, and indexed the 1927 edition of Codex
Argenteus, a kind of pilot project that made it possible to
display the text on the Internet via the website of Uppsala
University Library.

Magnús Snædal, Professor of General Linguistics at
University of Iceland, was very soon involved in the project.
His specialist competence regarding the Gothic language – his
comprehensive inventory A Concordance to Biblical Gothic 1998 is a
standard work in Gothic philology – made him fit for
supervising the philological aspects of the project.
This project has been possible to realise thanks to funds
from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (The Bank of Sweden
Tercentenary Foundation). The foundation has provided the
main financing of the project.
The photography job, the scanning, is carried out at the
Photographic Services of Uppsala University Library in
cooperation with the Library’s Section for Preservation. The
integration of the scanned material into the Library’s website
is completed by the Graphic Services.

The Goths, the Gothic Language and the Gothic Bible
once may have emigrated from the southern parts of
Scandinavia. At the time of the birth of Christ they lived as
farmers in the north of Europe. At the end of the first
century, they began to wander southwards and became a
people of warriors. In the 2nd century they operated around
the Black Sea. They were often in war with the Romans.
Sometimes they were victorious, like when the Roman
emperor Decius fell for an army led by the Gothic King
Kniwa in the middle of the 3rd century, and sometimes they
were not, like in 269 on the Balkan Peninsula when the
Romans managed to conquer and split the Gothic people.
At the end of the 2nd century, the Goths were divided into
two main groups: Visigoths and Ostrogoths, sometimes
improperly called Westgoths and Eastgoths. The Visigoths
went into Dacia in today’s Romania, where they stayed for
about a hundred years. Later on they became the rulers of
what is now Southern France and Spain. When the Arabs
came in the early 8th century, the Gothic hegemony was
broken in these areas. The Ostrogoths went into today’s
Ukraine and became for a time dependants under the Huns.
Free from the Huns again, they settled down in Pannonia
under protectorate of the Eastern Empire after some time.
Soon they were permitted by Constantinople to settle down
in all Italy and rule the land.
The Goths were a Germanic people and the Gothic
language is a Germanic language. As the Goths were
wandering, some foreign words were adapted to their
language. And as the Goths met the Romans very often and
lived together with Romans for long times, the influence of
Latin is sometimes discernible in the Gothic language. The
Goths were not a writing people, and our possibility to study

their language today is very limited. What they left to
posterity of literature is a translation of the Bible and
moreover very few fragments of text. Even the Bible
translation is very fragmentarily preserved: the Codex Argenteus,
a Gospel book, even that in fragments, plus some minor
documents. Then we can understand the great importance of
this manuscript as a source for philological research.
Beside the Codex Argenteus, we can find Gothic texts today in
a few palimpsests, some marginal notes in a manuscript, and
some small fragment of a Gothic manuscript. Palimpsests are the
Codex Carolinus in Wolfenbüttel, the Codices Ambrosiani in Milan,
among them some of the Skeireins leaves that are not in the
Vatican Library, and the Codex Taurinensis in Turin. Marginal
notes are found in the so called Codex Veronensis, and a short
fragment is for instance the Codex Gissensis, part of a Gothic-
Latin double-leaf found in Egypt and destroyed by a flood in
Giessen in Germany in the 1940s. Texts that might be Gothic
are found on some metal artefacts (like weapons and trinkets),
but these are very few and short inscriptions. Moreover, the
exact linguistic origin of these inscriptions is questioned.
The Gothic Bible translation was made by the Visigothic
bishop Wulfila. His name means ‘the little wolf’. Wulfila, who
died in 381 or some years thereafter, was Bishop of ‘Gothia’,
for those Christians who lived in the Gothic settlement at the
river Danube. Wulfila was an Arian Christian (he is sometimes
described as a ‘semi-Arian’), like the Gothic Christians in
general. The concept of Arianism is too complicated to deal
with here, but it implicated that Wulfila did not accept the
doctrine of the Trinity such as it had been stated at the
Council of Nicaea in 325. Wulfila translated the Bible from
Greek, and he seems to have used several Greek versions. The
tradition tells that he translated the entire Bible except for the
books of Kings. They were too martial, and Wulfila did not
want to give the Goths any more martial encouragement. One

important task for Wulfila beside the translation seems to have
been the Christian mission. Like many other missionaries after
him, Wulfila was a typographic pioneer, if we can use this
term for the era of handwriting. Probably it was he, who
constructed the Gothic alphabet, and probably he did it for
the Gothic Bible translation. Probably the Goths had earlier
used the runic alphabet. There are a few characters in Wulfila’s
alphabet that remind of runic characters, but on the whole this
is based on the Greek alphabet.
Theoderic the Great was the Ostrogothic King during the
first period of the Gothic hegemony in Italy. He was born in
the middle of the 5th century, and he died in 526. He was the
King of Goths in Italy, but also the King of Romans. He used
the title Gothorum romanorumque rex. He was the leader of a tribe
of barbarians, warriors and Arians – the Ostrogoths were still
Arians as bishop Wulfila once had been. But Theoderic in
Italy is not just a king, he acts like a Roman Emperor. He
builds churches and palaces, he stamps coins with his own
picture, he uses the purple colour with permission from the
Eastern Emperor. He builds his capital Ravenna on the
pattern of Constantinople. He gives the Romans panem et
circensem, and they call him ‘Trajan’ and ‘Valentinian’. The civil
administration in Theoderic’s Italy was Roman and its
language was Latin. Theoderic’s Prime Minister was
Cassiodorus, a noble Roman magistrate, later one of the early
cloister founders in Italy.
It was a question of great Gothic national prestige, that the
Arians should have as splendid churches as the Catholics. But
the ecclesiastical life required not only impressive buildings
and beautiful liturgical dresses. It also required the Sacred
Scriptures, preferably in magnificent books. The Silver Bible
was such a book. Perhaps the most beautiful one, but we do
not know for sure. Ravenna had began to be a centre even for

Within thirty years after Theoderic’s death in 526 the
Gothic Empire in Italy was over. The Eastern Empire had
conquered the land during the long so-called »Gothic war«.
What happened to the Codex Argenteus?

The Mystery of the Thousand Years
Ravenna and Werden? This is the Mystery of the Thousand
Years, and there are several theories about this mystery. In the
Werden Monastery upon Ruhr the manuscript was discovered
in the middle of the 16th century by two theologians from
Cologne: Georg Cassander and Cornelius Wouters. At least
they knew about it, which we can see from their
correspondence with other scholars.
How did the manuscript wander from Ravenna to Werden?
We do not know. Many scholars have been occupied with this
mystery, and when the Speyer Leaf – or the Haffner Leaf, as it
is called after its finder – was discovered in 1970, the
speculations started again and were much connected to the
question of how and when the Haffner Leaf was separated
from the manuscript. There are in principal three main
One is the Theory of the Early Separation, which means that the
Haffner Leaf was taken away from the rest of the manuscript
in the early Middle Ages. Representatives for this theory are
Piergiuseppe Scardigli in Italy and Jan-Olof Tjäder in Sweden.
Tjäder, for instance, thinks that the manuscript went
southwards in Italy as a part of the Gothic Crown Treasury,
when the Gothic Empire was falling, and that it found its way
to Formia. There the Haffner Leaf was separated from the rest
of the manuscript, and put together with the relics of St.
Erasme from the 4th century. It went with the relics on
roundabout ways to Werden, and the rest of the manuscript
was found in Italy by St. Liudger who took it to Werden, to
the monastery that he founded in 799.
A representative for the Theory of the Late Separation is
Margarete Andersson-Schmitt in Sweden. She argues, that the

Haffner Leaf very well could have been together with the rest
of the manuscript on its way to Werden. If the Codex Argenteus
was rebound in the late 8th century or in the early 9th century,
which Tjäder thinks it was, it is very unlikely that it should
have been so roughly cut, she maintains. The margins of the
Haffner Leaf are about two centimetres wider than the
margins of the Uppsala leaves. During the Carlovingian
Renaissance, the book bindery was not on such a barbaric
level. Andersson-Schmitt thinks, and so had also Frans
Haffner thought, that the Haffner Leaf was still in the
manuscript in Werden. But from Werden it was probably sent
to Mainz in the early 16th century. Perhaps they wanted in
Werden to get an expert statement concerning the nature of
the manuscript. Perhaps they wanted to sell the manuscript to
Mainz, and sent the leaf as a sample. After some years, the leaf
in Mainz was forgotten, and the manuscript in Werden got a
simple binding and was put back on its shelf.
Tjäder had thought, that the Silver Bible hardly could have
been bound in Werden in the early 16th century, because
Arnold Mercator some decades later found the manuscript
there in a miserable condition. But Andersson-Schmitt means,
that it very well could have been in a miserable condition,
even if it was rebound some decades before. The Haffner Leaf
was probably put together with the relics of St. Erasme, she
suggests, when Archbishop Albrecht’s property was put in
order after his death in 1545.
A carbon 14 analysis, made of some binding-threads from
the Codex Argenteus in 1998, shows that the manuscript was
bound at least once during the 16th century. This does not
prove Andersson-Schmitt’s theory, and it does not disprove
Tjäder’s. But it shows that the theory of the early separation is
unnecessary to explain the difference in format for the Haffner
leaf and the Uppsala leaves.

A third theory about the Silver Bible wanderings during the
Thousand Years is that of Lars Hermodsson in Sweden. This
theory does not deal with the separation of the Haffner Leaf
from the others. Hermodsson proposes that the Silver Bible
was still in Ravenna when Charlemagne visited the city.
Charlemagne was very fascinated by Ravenna and Theoderic
the Great. Hermodsson means that the Silver Bible was taken
together with other manuscripts from Ravenna to Aachen by
Charlemagne. And from Aachen the way was short to
These three theories are the main explanations of the Thou-
sand Years Mystery. In 1998 (in Swedish) and in 2002 (in
English) Lars Munkhammar presented a fourth theory, the
Cassiodorus Theory. It says briefly that the Codex Argenteus was
taken to the Vivarium Monastery in southern Italy, founded
by Theoderic’s chief minister Cassiodorus. The Vivarium
library collection is said to have been transferred to the
Lateran Library in Rome. From there a shipment of
manuscripts was sent to Cologne (Köln) in the early 9th
century, and this shipment included the Codex Argenteus, which
then ended up in Werden.
There are other theories too, trying to solve the thousand
years’ mystery. On the whole, the lacking of more facts shows
the vanity of the enterprise. One scholar blows down his
predecessors castle of cards with his own theory. And so it
will be all the time until we get more facts – findings,
documents, whatever.

Werden – Uppsala
Prague, to the castle of Rudolf II. We know that this must
have been before the year 1601, because it is mentioned by
Richard Strein, one of Rudolf’s ministers, and Strein died in
1600. We do not know if Rudolf borrowed the manuscript or
bought it, or perhaps just took it. And we cannot take it for
granted that the codex went directly from Werden to Prague
as we will see later. However, it came to be a part of the
emperor’s enormous collection of art, books, instruments,
curiosities, and just anything. There was even a magic book
collection in the castle, and perhaps the codex looked magic
enough to get its place there.
As we know, the Codex Argenteus became a piece of Swedish
war booty when Prague was captured in 1648. The manuscript
went to Queen Kristina’s library in Stockholm, where it lived
quite a retired life. The Queen was a great manuscript
collector, but her speciality was Greek manuscripts, not
‘barbarian’ ones. One of the Royal Librarians, Isaac Vossius,
got the Codex Argenteus from the Queen after she had abdicated
in 1654. His uncle, Franciscus Junius, made the editio princeps of
the codex, printed in 1665. But Vossius himself, who was a
great lover of manuscripts, was not interested in Gothic texts,
only in classical manuscripts. So he sold the manuscript to
Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, the Swedish Chancellor and
Chancellor of Uppsala University. De la Gardie donated it to
Uppsala University in 1669.
De la Gardie bought the manuscript through the Swedish
minister Peter Trotzig in Amsterdam. In order to get the book
to Sweden Trotzig put it in an oak-wood box or case. The case
was sent with the ship St. Joris from Amsterdam on the 28th of
July, 1662. But a tempest broke out and St. Joris stroke the
ground by Zuiderzee. Trotzig was badly frightened. He sent a

boat to the ship to fetch the book case. The case was intact and
Trotzig praised God in Heaven. He made a new try. He put
the oak case in a lead case, which he sealed with solder, and
sent on the ship Phoenix on the 12th of September to
Gothenburg. This time he was successful. The codex came to
Sweden and De la Gardie got it.
De la Gardie was eager to show his remarkable acquisition
to the professors in Uppsala. Now the codex had got a
symbolic value that went far beyond its importance as a
philological fountainhead. It was the Word of God such as it
was revealed to the Goths, our ancestors, the original
inhabitants of Sweden, and the origin of all people. This was
within the frame of mind that dominated the Swedish
chauvinistic Great Power Era. It was part of the
historiography that soon would culminate in Olof Rudbeck’s
Atlantica, where Sweden once was inhabited by the Goths, the
origin of all people. The Goths spread all over the world.
They wandered, and they made war, and they conquered even
the Romans. They founded great and mighty kingdoms.
De la Gardie donated the Codex Argenteus to Uppsala
University in 1669. The gift comprised a collection of 65
manuscripts of which the Codex Argenteus was merely one.
Many of the manuscripts were bought in 1651 after the Danish
historian Stefanus Johannes Stephanius and were Old Norse,
often Icelandic, documents. Among them the later so called
Uppsala Edda being from about 1300. The highlight of the
donation was of course the Gothic evangeliarium, which had got
a silver cover with an interesting iconographic ornamentation
made by two of Sweden’s most famous artists: the drawer and
painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl and the goldsmith Hans
Bengtsson Sellingh.

Codex Argenteus – A Codicological Description
The cover
when it was presented to Uppsala University in 1669 was
made of beaten silver. It was made in Stockholm by the Court
goldsmith Hans Selling according to a design by David
Klöcker Ehrenstrahl. Silver was a suitable material, since the
manuscript had been well known under the name of Codex
Argenteus, the ‘Silver Book’ ever since Bonaventura Vulcanius
introduced this nomination in his De literis & lingua Getarum, siue
Gothorum in 1597.
The front cover of the silver casing shows Time in the shape
of an elderly winged man prising up a grave-slab, letting his
daughter Truth up into the daylight. Truth is a naked woman
carrying a book with the inscription ‘Codex Argenteus’ in her
left hand and pointing with her right hand at Bishop Wulfila
behind her. Wulfila is sitting at a desk in a library room
wearing a mitre, writing. His writing is of course translating
the Bible into Gothic or, as De la Gardie explained it to the
University Council when donating the manuscript: writing
the book in question, i.e. Codex Argenteus (!). A cartouche above
this scene, held up by two putti, has the text: »Vlphila
redivivus, et patriæ restitutus cura M. G. De la Gardie, R[egni]
S[veciae] Cancellarij. Anno 1669« (Wulfila revived and
repatriated by M.G. De la Gardie, Chancellor of Sweden, in
the year 1669). The back cover shows the coat of arms of the
count’s family De la Gardie.
We do not know anything about the original cover of the
Codex Argenteus. We can imagine that this deluxe codex once
had a deluxe binding and cover, or at least was meant to have.
There are different theories about when the original cover was
removed from the book block, but it is never doubted that it

once was there, unless this prestige evangeliarium remained
someone’s Unfinished.
Surviving examples of cover masterpieces from the 6th
century are few, a handful. But these, together with written
and even pictorial testimony, provide an image of wooden
boards covered in gold, silver, gems and sometimes ivory
carvings. St. Jerome’s loathing for these boastful codices of Bible
texts is famous: »Parchments are dyed purple, gold is melted
into lettering, manuscripts are decked with jewels, while
Christ lies at the door naked and dying.«

The materials
For a long period time, it was alleged that the parchment was
made from the skin of new-born or even unborn calves, but
modern research suggests that it was more likely made from
kid. The parchment is very thin, 0.11–0.12 mm on average
plus/minus some tenths of a millimetre. It is so carefully
worked up that the hair follicles can be discerned in only a few
places. There is a great difference between hair-side and flesh-
side. The hair-side seems more compact and glossy, while the
flesh-side seems more porous and mat. The scripture seems
more elevated on the hair-side than on the flesh-side. The
leaves have a tendency to curl up with the flesh-side out.
The colour of the leaves varies considerably today between
the different folios as well as between hair-side and flesh-side.
The flesh-side is in general paler than the hair-side. The nuance
of the leaf colour varies from greyish to bluish, reddish,
brownish, and purple. The dye is not from the murex, the
purple-shell. This dye needed extensive heating and was
suitable for textiles, not for parchment. An examination in
1990 showed that probably one of the following vegetable
dyes has been used: alkanna, folium, kermes or a lichen dye.
The colour nuance in the margins is stronger and better
preserved than in the writing space. The outer margins have

on the other hand a tendency to become a shade of reddish-
brown. The parchment is not dyed thoroughly, the dye has
been coated on the hair-side very thinly, and it has partially
penetrated the very thin parchment.
The codex is written in silver ink and gold ink. We do not
know the formula of these writing materials, but it is plausible
that the metals were pulverised and mixed with some liquid
(water or oil) and an adhesive (glue). There is even a possibility
that the text in some places (or everywhere, which seems
utterly labour-intensive) is pre-written with some other
writing material. In some places both ink and parchment have
been destroyed, which might be a sign of some acid and
corrosive material (gallic acid, copperas, garlic juice?).
The main part of the text is written in silver ink, this is the
book face, so to speak. The headlines are also written in silver
like the quotation marks in the left margin (looking like dots
or arrows), the numbers of the sections (more about the
sections and the canon system later on) and their framework
in the left margin, the four pairs of columns covered with
arches under the written surface, and the numbers they
surround. Even the headings of the names of the evangelists
are written in silver. (There are only the introductions to Luke
and Mark left, but probably Matthew and John would have
been marked out in the same way.)
The first three lines of Mark and Luke are written in gold
ink, and probably this would have been the case for Matthew
and John too. The beginning of each section is written in gold
until the end of the relevant line. The sections do not
necessarily begin with a new line, so the length of the gold
scripture may vary considerably. The first line of the Lord’s
Prayer (Matthew VI:9) is written in gold, and so are the
symbols and abbreviations for the evangelists in the canon

Leaves, double leaves, and gatherings
The width of the leaves of Codex Argenteus is between 19.75 and
20 cm. The height is between 24.25 and 24.50 cm. The Haffner
Leaf in Speyer, found in 1970, is 21.7 cm at its widest and 26.5
cm at its highest. Probably this is quite close to the original
The double leaves, the bifolia, are the smallest constituents of
the parchment. The pairs of leaves were cut out in one piece
from the parchment. Today there are also some single leaves
among the remnants of the manuscript, but this is because the
leaves have separated or been separated from each other over
the years. When building the book block, the bifolia were put
together into gatherings, quires, that were bound together as a
book, a codex.
Before the double leaves were gathered, they were ruled.
This was done on the flesh-side with a pointed tool, effecting
relief lines on both sides of the leaf. Two vertical lines were
made with a 13 cm gap between on each leaf. The inner lines
went 2.25 cm from the centre line or the fold of the bifolium.
Between these margin lines, there are two systems of
horizontal lines. The larger and upper system for the text
column is 16.5 cm high, and its top line is about 2.25 cm under
the present top edge of the Uppsala leaves (and perhaps 3.5 cm
under the original top edge). The characters are written
between each odd and even line in this system. The smaller
and lower system begins one centimetre under the lowest line
of the upper system. It consists of 11 parallel lines with a 3
mm space between, and it is 3.33 cm high. In this system the
four canon tables are inscribed, that belong to every page. The
top line and the bottom line of each system are ruled in the
same continuous lines all over the full width of the bifolia.
The proportions of the surface limited on each side of the
vertical lines, the top line of the upper system, and the bottom

line of the lower system, are created according to the principle
of the Golden Section: the height relates to the width as the
sum of the height and the width relates to the height.
The gatherings or quires consisted of four bifolia, called
quaternio, or of five bifolia, called quinio. Thirty-seven of the
original gatherings of the original Codex Argenteus were
quaternio gatherings, and four were quinio gatherings. The
last gathering in each gospel was a quinio. This is, of course,
on the assumption that the original codex contained nothing
but the four gospels. But it might well have contained
something else. As did, for example, its ‘sister codex’, Codex
Brixianus, a Latin evangeliarium created in the same cultural
environment as the Codex Argenteus (probably Gothic Ravenna).
This codex also contained an introduction, partially preserved
The leaves were assembled in the following manner. The
first bifolium was put with the flesh-side down. On the top of
it the next bifolium was put with the hair-side down. The
third one was put with the flesh-side down. And so on. This
order meant that both pages in each opening were either flesh-
sides or hair-sides, which gave the opening a homogenous
impression in respect of structure and dyeing.
Each gathering was numbered with a figure in the bottom
margin of its last page. Several of these figures are left today,
but others are lost through trimming and cutting the edges.

Extent and gaps

If the original Codex Argenteus contained nothing but the four
gospels, it must have had 336 leaves or 672 pages. This is the
result of intricate calculations made by professor Otto von
Friesen in the 1920s. Today there are just 188 leaves left, 187
in Uppsala plus the Haffner Leaf in Speyer. The lacunae are
spread as follows. 76 leaves are missing from Matthew, and 22

remain. Twenty-nine leaves are missing from John, and 45
remain. Thirty-six leaves are missing from Luke, and 70
remain. Seven leaves are missing from Mark, and 50 remain in
Uppsala, and one, the final leaf, in Speyer. Six of the lacunae
are large and concern 9–60 leaves. Two of them are in
Matthew, two in John, and two in Luke. Eleven of the lacunae
are minor: one or two leaves. Four of them are in Matthews,
two in John, one in Luke and four in Mark. Or: 75% of
Matthew is lost, 40% of John, 35% of Luke, and 8% of Mark.

The binding
Otto von Friesen and Anders Grape, two of the men behind
the facsimile edition of 1927, described the original binding
thread as purple-coloured linen thread. They say that shorter
pieces of this thread were still left when the codex was
disassembled and the leaves were detached from the binding to
be photographed. Friesen and Grape had these thread pieces
preserved in an envelope close to the leaves.
In 1997, one of these thread pieces (more reminiscent of
wool than of linen) was subjected to a C14 analysis for a rough
estimate of age. It showed that the material was at least one
thousand years younger than had been supposed by Friesen
and Grape. This means that we do not know any original
binding thread from the codex.

The scripture
The scripture of the Codex Argenteus is the Gothic script in the
Gothic characters Wulfila is supposed to have constructed.
The characters also represent numeral figures. The Codex
Argenteus script is not the everyday script of the Goths, but an
artistic one, meant to give an ornamental impression. It is a
kind of uncial script, a majuscule script, strictly kept between
two horizontal lines. It is erect, and so regular that the
philologist Johan Ihre in the middle of the 18th century

asserted that it was not written with a pen or a calamus, but that
the letters were burnt into the parchment with hot stamps. He
had good reasons to make his assumption, but later research
has disproved him on this point.
The left margin is even, except for initials of sections and
larger divisions, which are drawn out into the margin. The
right margin, on the other hand, is not even. Rules for
syllabification, ends of sections and other factors have affected
the margin line here. Beside the normal script, there are also
enlarged characters of different sizes. Some of them have been
used as initials of sections beginning on a new line, and others
as initials of sections beginning somewhere in the line.
The script does not separate the words by space, but there
are normally spaces between sentences and certain clauses.
There is also space between sections ending and beginning on
the same line. Space between sections is normally preceded by
a colon or full stop.
There are only column headlines on the flesh-sides. On the
left page of an opening the word ‘þairh’ (according to) is the
headline, on the right page the shortened name of the
evangelist. The headlines of the gospels (there are only Luke
and Mark left) are short: ‘Gospel according to Luke begins’.
Each section has its own number, noted in the left margin
at the beginning of the section. The numbers are marked by
figures (marked by letters), elaborately framed.
A division sign is used to indicate the beginning of each
new section. It has the shape of a thin horizontal hair-stroke,
thickened at the tips, with a dot or a mark resembling an
arrow-head in the middle. It is golden and placed obliquely up
to the left of the initial of the section. There are also
abbreviation signs, ligatures, and different punctuation marks
in the script.

The canon tables
The canon tables or parallel tables at the foot of the pages of
Codex Argenteus is a cross reference system for Bible passages in
the four gospels. The system is the so called Eusebian, the
synopsis of the gospels constructed by Eusebius of Caesarea (d.
339/40). Eusebios divided the text into sections which he gave
numbers within each gospel from the beginning to the end.
With the help of the section numbers he formed ten
concordance tables, kanones. In the other direction he made
four tables, one for each gospel. In kanon I there are Bible
passages common to all gospels. In the kanones II, III, and IV,
there are passages common to three of the gospels. In kanones
V–IX there are passages common to two of the gospels. Finally,
in kanon X there are the passages that have no correspondence
in any other gospel. For this kanon system Eusebios made a
prologue, a manual for the user of the system. The prologue
and the concordance tables often constitute a kind of
introduction to the gospel books contemporary to the Codex
Argenteus. This is the case in Codex Brixianus, and it is very likely
that even the Codex Argenteus once had such an introduction.
Thus, the four pairs of columns covered with arches at the
foot of each page of the Codex Argenteus are number tables, one
for each evangelist, quoting the different kanones valid for each
page. This shows the reader which sections of the text he is
reading (in this milieu it is always a he) that have
corresponding sections in other gospels. The order of the
canon tables is the order of the gospels in the Codex Argenteus
(Matthew, John, Luke, Mark) with the exception that the table
for the gospel in question always comes first. At the top of
each table is the evangelist’s name in gold: Matthew and Mark
have monograms, John and Luke have abbreviations.
Everything else in the tables (framework and figures) is in

The canon tables are very regularly designed thanks to the
lower line system of the pages. They give the pages a special
aesthetic expression when visually carrying the massive text.
The association from the shape of the canon tables to
Theoderic’s palace and other buildings in Ravenna is

The scribes
Johan Ihre had the idea that the script was not written, but
that the letters were burnt into the parchment with hot
stamps. Those who criticised him and maintained that the
codex was written by hand were still struck by the regularity
of the script, and no one seems to have thought anything else
than that it was written by one hand from beginning to end.
Not until the 1920s when the leaves were detached from the
binding was it possible to compare the different leaves side by
side. Anders Grape then discovered some differences between
the beginning of Luke and the previous parts of the text,
especially concerning a couple of characters. It became obvious
that the codex was written by two different scribes. The first
scribe (hand I) had written Matthew and John. The other
scribe (hand II) had written Luke and Mark. Hand II has a
more slender, more angular, and more contrasting type-form
than hand I, says Grape.
We do not know who the two scribes were. Jan-Olof
Tjäder once introduced Wiljarith and Merila to us as known
scribes in a ravennatic Arian Gothic scriptorium. In this
workshop, however, there were probably more scribes, and of
course we cannot say the exact names of hand I and hand II.
Tjäder thinks that Wiljarith was the master of his workshop,
and that Merila was his assistant. Wiljarith and Merila might
have been the ‘hands’ in Codex Argenteus, but almost nothing
can be stated with certainty in the history of this codex.

An Old Codex in a New Europe
Beauty in the middle of the 16th century, the world is new.
Books are not written by hand anymore, Gutenberg’s
invention has been used for a hundred years. The reformation
of the churches shook Europe decades ago. The distant
relatives of Bishop Wulfila in Germany and Sweden have
finally got their own Bibles in their own languages. But on the
other hand: the place where the Silver Bible is blessed with her
reviving princely kiss is not part of the modern world – it is an
old Catholic recess for manuscripts: the Benedictine
monastery of Werden on the Ruhr.
The traditional story about the fate of the Codex Argenteus
during the 16th century goes something like this.
In 1554 (or perhaps earlier) two men knew that there was a
Gothic Bible text manuscript in the Werden Monastery.
Probably they had seen it; at the very least they had copies of
the Gothic alphabet, of the Lord’s Prayer in Gothic and of
some other Bible passages in Gothic. The two men were
Georg Cassander, a theologian from Brügge, later active in
Cologne and dead in 1566, and his friend and patron Cornelius
Wouters (or Gualtherus), teacher at the Cathedral school in
Brügge, later living in Cologne and dead in 1582. Their
acquaintance with the Codex Argenteus is known through
correspondence between contemporary German scholars.
Otto von Friesen and Anders Grape say that Cassander and
Wouters should be regarded as the discoverers of Codex
Argenteus in the Modern Era, »as far as research has reached
today« (1927).
Somewhere between 1573 and 1587 (we do not know
when) Arnold Mercator saw the Codex Argenteus in Werden. He
was a cartographer and son of the famous Belgian-German

cartographer Gerhard Mercator. He knew that the manuscript
was kept in the monastery, and he wanted to copy parts of the
text. He noted that the codex was incomplete and torn, and
that the leaves were incorrectly arranged in the binding,
probably because the bookbinder was unable to order them
since he could not read the text.
As we have seen, the Codex Argenteus was in the possession of
Rudolf II in Prague in 1600 or earlier. How the Emperor
acquired the codex is unclear. Perhaps he borrowed it from
Werden (as he borrowed the Codex Gigas , the ‘Devil’s Bible’
from the monastery in Broumov), perhaps he bought it or
received it as a gift.
New research discoveries point to a somewhat different
possible course of events. The German scholar Dorothea
Diemer has recently shown that the Codex Argenteus was
probably removed from the Benedictine monastery in Werden
soon after it had been discovered by Cassander and Wouters.
And probably the discovery of the codex was made earlier
than we have previously assumed. There are signs suggesting
that the Codex Argenteus was part of the collection of curios –
antiquities, coins, natural-history specimens and so on –
belonging to a noble man called Johann Wilhelm von
Laubenberg von Wagegg (1511–1563). In a letter 1562 he offers
the Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria (1528–1579) the purchase of
his Altertümersammlung which contains among other things a
‘silver book’. Laubenberg’s description of this book indicates
that he might be talking about the Codex Argenteus (named this
already in the 16th century). Diemer also refers to a tradition
saying that there was a Gothic gospel book in Bibliotheca
Palatina in Heidelberg in the middle of the 16th century and
that it disappeared some time thereafter. In his letter
Laubenberg writes that he once sent the book as a loan to the
Count Palatine Ottheinrich (1502–1559) who had it for several
years. There is no evidence for the common view that for

example Arnold Mercator saw the original codex in Werden.
It might even be that all of Mercator’s information about the
codex comes from the papers left by his father, Gerhard
Mercator. Duke Albrecht did not buy the ‘silver book’ from
Laubenberg, but perhaps Rudolf II did.
Knowledge of the Codex Argenteus was spread in different
ways during the late 16th century and onwards: by letters and
learned correspondence, of course, but probably also in
discussions by word of mouth. Very soon glimpses of the
Gothic gospels appear in printed literature.
Johannes Goropius Becanus published Origines Antwerpianae
in 1569. In this work the Lord’s Prayer and parts of the gospel
according to St. Mark are reproduced in Gothic, transcribed to
German type. The author has a defective knowledge of the
Gothic language, but he knows that the texts are from an old
manuscript in the monastery of Werden. The Lord’s Prayer
from Origines Antwerpianae was also published in Specimen XL
diversarum lingvarum, Frankfurt 1592, by Hieronymus Megiser.
Bonaventura Vulcanius, Professor of Greek in Leiden,
published De literis & lingua Getarum, siue Gothorum in 1597.
Vulcanius refers to an author (unknown to him, but probably
Cornelius Wouters) who claims to have his information from
a very old codex called argenteus. This is the first time the
denomination Codex Argenteus is used as far as we know, and it
is frequently used in this work. Vulcanius gives many samples
of the Gothic language set up in woodcut with transcription
and translation into Latin. He also relates the Gothic texts to
Wulfila’s translation of the Bible.
Inscriptiones antiquae totius orbis Romani is a huge epigraphic
omnibus book, published in its first edition by the Dutch-
English writer and polyhistor Janus Gruter or Jean de
Gruytere in Heidelberg in 1602–1603. Here we can find two
full folio columns of Gothic text in woodcut. They contain

parts of the gospels according to St. Matthew (including the
Lord’s Prayer) and St. Mark. Gruter obtained his information
about the Codex Argenteus from Mercator, and he quotes what
Mercator says about the codex in Werden, the Gothic text and
the miserable condition of the codex. But we should not forget
the tradition according to Diemer about the Codex in
Heidelberg in the 16th century.

Franciscus Junius 1665
FRANCISCUS JUNIUS THE YOUNGER (1591–1677) was a skilled
scholar in many disciplines (theology, law, history, languages,
and other fields), periodically working as an editor, a teacher,
and a librarian. He was very interested in collecting and
editing rare manuscripts, and also very interested in Germanic
languages, not least Gothic.
Junius made the first printed edition of the Codex Argenteus,
the editio princeps, using specially made Gothic fonts. It was
published in Dordrecht in 1665 and later in Amsterdam in
1684 with a new title page. In Junius’ edition the Gothic text is
adapted to modern custom: the order of the Gospels is
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. The division is in chapters and
verses, and there are no traces of the Eusebian system of
sections and canon. The Gothic text is printed with resolved
abbreviations. An English Bible text translated by Thomas
Marshall is added as parallel reading. The edition includes a
Gothic glossary.
The Dordrecht edition 1665 as well as the Amsterdam
edition 1684 has a frontispiece leaf with an engraving by A.
Santvoort (»A Santvoort fe:«). The centre of the picture is a
portal in a decorated renaissance wall. The four evangelists are
placed in each corner of the image square. In the middle of the
top God is shining like the sun, marked as Jahve in the Hebrew
tetragrammaton. The portal encases the text »D.N. Iesu
Christi S.S. EUANGELIA Gothicè & Anglo-Saxonicè.«
Thereafter is a Greek quotation from Colossians III:11 saying
something like: »Not Barbarian, Scythian – but Christ is all,
and in all.« The entire passage is: »Where there is neither
Greek nor Jew, circumcision, nor uncircumcision, Barbarian,
Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.« So even
(or perhaps: not least) the barbarian Goths and other peculiar
peoples could be the portal to the gospels.

Junius had great difficulties in finding the order of the Codex
Argenteus. The order of the Gospels was not the one he was
used to, and the leaves were bound together in disorder. This
explains Junius’ many notations in the margins of the original
manuscript, which we still can see today.
Franciscus Junius had several reasons for his interest in the
Codex Argenteus, and there were also certain circumstances that
made him the suitable first editor of the manuscript. He had
the learned librarian’s instinct to collect and edit old and rare
manuscripts. As ‘The Father of Germanic Philology’, he had a
special interest in the Gothic language. And he also probably
had a religious interest in Wulfila’s Bible as a first example of
non-Catholic vernacular Bible translations into Germanic
languages (a proto-reformatory Bible). Moreover, (but perhaps
just a coincidence?) Junius had a special relation to Friesland
where St. Liudger once worked as a missionary, Liudger who
was supposed to have taken the Codex Argenteus from Italy to
the Germanic countries. And last but not least: he was the
uncle of Isaac Vossius who owned the manuscript.
After his education in Leyden (philology, theology, and
science) Junius had moved to England in 1621. First he
worked in the library of the Bishop of Norwich, Samuel
Harsnet, and then in the library of Thomas Howard, the 2nd
Earl of Arundel. The Arundel library, of which Junius later
became the librarian, contained great and rare collections.
Junius could spend part of his time on studies, copying and
making excerpts from manuscripts. Later on, he could use this
material together with material from the rich library of his
nephew Isaac Vossius for editions and lexicographical works.
Back in the Netherlands in the early 1640s Junius became
interested in the history of the Dutch language, and soon he
was absorbed by Germanic philology in general: Old English,
Frankish, Frisian, and other languages. His interest in the

Gothic language is for the first time expressed in 1650 in a
letter to a kinsman. He hopes that his nephew Isaac Vossius,
librarian at the court of the Swedish Queen, would come to
London and tell his uncle what he has learnt of the Gothic
language. Junius obviously thinks that Gothic is still living in
some (unclear) respect in Sweden. In 1654 he has borrowed the
Codex Argenteus from Vossius, who has got the codex from
Queen Kristina when the Queen abdicated and started her
journey to Rome. Junius is very happy to plunge into this sea
of Gothic words, and he starts to transfer them to his Old
English-Latin dictionary. Later on, he discusses Gothic words
and philology with learned colleagues, especially the German
theologian Johan Clauberg.
Junius’ possible religious interest in Wulfila’s Bible as a
non-Catholic vernacular Bible translation into a Germanic
language, a proto-reformatory Bible, is probable when looking
upon his own background. He came from a Huguenot family.
His father, Franciscus Junius or François de Jon, was a French
Protestant, who once had translated the Bible into Latin for
the Protestant world. Very many of Junius’ kinsmen and
learned colleagues were Protestants, like many of the
humanistic philologically interested scholars of the 16th and
17th centuries. One of them, James Ussher, Archbishop of
Ireland with Calvinist sympathies, was one of Junius’
correspondents. In 1651 he writes to Junius about Vulcanius’
information about the Codex Argenteus, and among other things
he comments the ‘doxology’ at the end of the Lord’s Prayer in
Wulfila’s translation (‘For thine is the kingdom, and the
power, and the glory, forever’). This is lacking in the Vulgate,
but Wulfila has it from an old Greek source, and (understood)
the Protestant Bibles have it.
And Friesland? Well, it is a vague connection or perhaps
just a coincidence. The idea that the Codex Argenteus was taken
from Italy to the northern parts of Europe by St. Liudger

seems to be born in the 19th century. But of course this
tradition might be older. It is not very likely that a connection
between Liudger and the codex ever was in Junius’ mind, but
you never know. Liudger founded the monastery Werden in
799. Before that he stayed in Italy from where he took many
pieces of art. He was a pupil of Alkuin, Charlemagne’s
‘minister of culture’, and he visited Alkuin’s school in York in
the 760s and 770s. Thereafter he worked as a missionary
among the Frisians, and in 784 he went to Rome and Monte
Cassino where he stayed for two and a half years. In 787 he
returned to France, and after a new missionary period among
the Frisians and in Westfalen, he founded his monastery Wer-
den. Junius stayed in Friesland for about two years, perhaps
1646–1648, it is unclear, to study the language. The connection
Codex Argenteus – Liudger – Friesland – Junius – Codex Argenteus
may have philological and/or religious roots or be just a
matter of chance.
But the connection Junius – Vossius was not by chance.
Junius was the uncle of Vossius, his mother’s brother. The
two gentlemen seem to have been very close related, not only
by family ties, but also, and not least, by joint scholarly
interests. For some periods they even lived together. Isaac
Vossius had been one of Queen Kristina’s librarians. When
Kristina moves to Rome in 1654, Vossius’ time at Her
Majesties Service is over. But he has not got his salary, and his
own manuscript collection is partly mixed up with the
Queen’s, they have borrowed books from each other. On her
way to Rome Kristina makes a stop in Antwerpen where she
tries to settle up with her librarians. She gives them books for
money and books for books. And among the books (or
manuscripts) that Vossius gets is the Codex Argenteus. It is not
fortune, of course, but we cannot prove it. Vossius was very
aware of his uncle’s great interest in the Gothic language and
of his knowledge of this codex. He knew that Junius wanted

it, wanted to see it, to use it, to have it, at least to borrow it.
And borrow it he finally could.
Junius used specially made Gothic fonts for his edition of
the Codex Argenteus. At the bottom of the title page we can read:
»DORDRECHTI.// Typis & sumptibus JUNIANIS. Excudebant
Henricus & Joannes Essæi,// Urbis Typographi Ordinarii.
CI)I)CLXV.« This means that the edition is printed in Dordrecht
in 1665 with Junius’ types and money, and that the printing
work was done by Hendrik and Johann van Esch, printers
with burgership in the town. The title page text also says:
»Accessit & GLOSSARIUM Gothicum: cui præmittitur
ALPHABETUM// Gothicum, Runicum, &c. operâ ejusdem
FRANCISCI JUNII.« That is to say that the publication also
includes a Gothic glossary and has views of Gothic, Runic, and
other alphabets, and that these also are works by Franciscus
As a scholar of Germanic languages, and as an editor of
Germanic texts, Junius had special types made of those
characters that could not be represented by the Latin ones. He
treated these ‘printing utensils’ as treasures, and when he died,
he bequeathed this equipment together with his books and
manuscripts to Oxford University where they are still kept
and exhibited as a part of Oxford University Press archive.
Junius had Gothic, Runic, Anglo-Saxon, ancient German, and
other types cut, matriculated, and cast. He had contact with
several printing houses in Amsterdam, Dordrecht, London,
and Middelburg, and it is not easy to know whom he chose as
his punchcutter. The Dublin scholar Peter J. Lucas has
seriously penetrated the question. His suggestion is after a
complicated reasoning (although he cannot prove it) that
Junius’ punchcutter was Christoffel van Dijk, one of two very
competent punchcutters in Amsterdam in the middle of the
17th century. Van Dijk thus could be the cutter of Junius
Gothic font’, his ‘Pica Gothica’.

Before Junius’ edition was published in 1665, the original
Codex Argenteus was back in Sweden. Magnus Gabriel De la
Gardie had bought the codex from Vossius in 1662 together
with a copy of the text made by an (to us) unknown person
called Derrer. Junius had used Derrer’s copy for his edition
work, but he had also made his own copy of the manuscript,
still extant and kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (MS
Junius 55). The Derrer copy, on the other hand, was destroyed
in the Uppsala fire in 1702. De la Gardie had paid 500 Swedish
dollars, ‘riksdaler’, for the original codex and the copy. He
may also in some way have supported the printing of Junius’
edition. However, the edition is grandiosely dedicated to De la
Gardie: »Illustrissimo et Exellentissimo Domino, D. Magno
Gabrieli De la Gardie, Comiti de Leckou et Arensburg,
Domino in Habsal, Magnushoff, et Hoyendorp, S. Regiæ
Majestatis Regnique Sueciæ Senatori et Cancellario, Wester-
Gothiæ ac Daliæ Judici Provinciali, nec non Academiæ
Upsaliensis Cancellario.« (To the most Brilliant and Excellent
Gentleman, Sir Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, Count of Leckö
and Arensburg, Lord of Habsal, Magnushoff, and Hoyendorp,
and Senator and Chancellor of His Royal Majesty and the
Kingdom of Sweden, Chief judge in Västergötland and Dal,
also the Chancellor of Uppsala University.)
That is the beginning. The dedication takes eleven pages,
and it constitutes at the same time an introduction to the
edition. Junius’ Gothic glossary had already been published in
the year before, but now it was reprinted together with the
edition. The glossary had its own dedication to De la Gardie.
The beginning is similar to the dedication of the edition, but
the continuation consists of a fourteen pages long Latin poem
in elegiac distich, written by the philologist Jan van Vliet
(1620–66). The poem is about De la Gardie, the Gothic
history, Junius and the Codex argenteus. It is undersigned:
»devotissimus JANUS VLITIUS J.C. Civitatis Ditionisque Bredanæ

Syndicus & Archigrammateus«, i.e. »Yours Most Devoted JAN VAN
VLIET, Jurist. Lawyer and City Legal Advisor of the City and Jurisdiction
of Breda«.
Apart from any possible financial aid relation between De
la Gardie and Junius, there may have been another, more
sentimental or symbolic relation: they were both coming from
old Huguenot families, and as we have seen, the Protestant
tradition was very important for many of those who were
interested in the Codex Argenteus. The iconography of the silver
cover De la Gardie had ordered for the Codex Argenteus when he
presented it to Uppsala University emphasises the Protestant
symbolic value of the Codex. Not least the image of Bishop
Wulfila, sitting and translating the Bible, an alternative parallel
to St. Jerome, the translator of the Catholic Bible. This has
been appositely described by the British scholar Simon

Georg Stiernhielm 1671
Argenteus to Uppsala University in 1669, to be kept in the
University Library. Both from his deed of gift and from the
iconography of the silver cover he had specially made for the
codex, we can understand the symbolic value he associated
with this book. We have noticed the Wulfila–Jerome parallel,
and in general: this was God’s Word such as it had once been
revealed to the Goths, our ancestors and the original
inhabitants of Sweden. Now repatriated by De la Gardie, this
book (‘Wulfila’s manuscript’) was an incarnation of the
invisible link that united the Gothic heroic antiquity and the
present Swedish Great Power Era.
Junius’ edition was clearly related to Sweden through the
swelling dedication to De la Gardie, but De la Gardie still
thought that there should be made an official Swedish edition
of this Wulfila monument. In November 1666 he pays Georg
Stiernhielm 600 Swedish dollars, ‘riksdaler’, in silver from
public funds for preparing a printed edition of the Codex
Argenteus. In December he presents the plan for a civil service
department with responsibility for national archaeology:
Collegium Antiqvitatum, ‘Antikvitetskollegiet’, an early model of
today’s Swedish National Heritage Board. Stiernhielm
becomes the first director of this institution when it starts to
work in 1667. It is obvious that the Wulfila edition is one of
its first tasks. In 1667 De la Gardie also procures a scholarship
for the student Abraham Tornæus to assist Stiernhielm with
proof-reading the edition.
Georg Stiernhielm (1598–1672) made a career in Swedish
public service, but he was also a poet, and went down to
posterity as the ‘Father of Swedish Poetry’. His great
hexameter poem Hercules was for centuries well known by
Swedish pupils. His linguistic philosophy included ideas of

text creation by means of replaceable language modules, a
preliminary stage of transformational grammar. In the 1640s
he developed a ‘Gothic’ (in a Swedish chauvinistic sense) view
of the Swedish language, which he looked upon as the original
language with sound values directly representing the essence of
things. Stiernhielm’s linguistic ideas are expressed in Gambla
Swea- och Götha måles fatebur 1643 (Treasury of the Old Swedish
and Gothic Languages).
Stiernhielm’s edition 1671 was published together with a
glossarium. This was essentially Junius’ dictionary, now
completed with Swedish words by Stiernhielm. The title page
of the 1671 edition does not mention Stiernhielm’s name; the
editor is supposed to be the institution, Antikvitetskollegiet. In the
dedication to the Swedish King, on the other hand,
Stiernhielm’s work is mentioned as well as his revision of the
glossarium. The printing of the glossary had been completed
already in 1670 with its own title page. In the publishing
process in 1671, however, a considerable part of the edition
got a new title page for the glossary. The title leaf of the 1670
glossary has on its verso page some alphabets in woodcut,
while the 1671 title leaf of the glossary, which has a more
ambitious title, has on its verso page alphabets and Gothic text
samples in copperplate.
The frontispiece page in Stiernhielm’s edition is a
copperplate depiction of the front cover scene from the silver
cover De la Gardie had ordered for the Codex Argenteus when he
donated it to Uppsala University in 1669. »Dav: Klöker.
S.R.M. Pictor: Inv: Dionysius Padt-Brugge. Fecit.
Stiernhielm’s edition is quadrilingual. Each opening has
four columns, one for each language: Gothic transliterated
with Latin letters, Icelandic, Swedish and Latin. Icelandic was
in Stiernhielm’s days supposed to be the old Swedish language.

The Latin text is from Latin Vulgate, Versio Vulgata. The
Gothic text is exactly the one presented by Junius, though
Anders Grape says that Stiernhielm follows Junius in detail,
and so slavishly – including Junius’ misreadings and unsolved
lacunae – that his edition is, in reality, an edition of Junius’
text, not of the text of the Codex itself. The deviations from
Junius – misprints as well as supposed improvements – are all
nothing but deterioration. Grape questions Stiernhielm’s
closer acquaintance with the Gothic language. The edition is
more of a patriotic deed than of a philological one.
Stiernhielm’s introduction to the edition, on the other hand,
not very much dealing with the Gothic language, and not at all
dealing with the Codex Argenteus, is quite an important
contribution to the question of relations between languages
and principles for linguistic development, all this vividly
debated at this time.

Erik Benzelius 1750
remarkable family. His father, Erik Benzelius the Elder, was
son of a farmer in Bensbyn, a small village near Luleå in the
north of Sweden. Father Benzelius took his family name from
the village. He completed his career as the Archbishop of
Sweden, as did his eldest son Erik the Younger and two other
sons, Jakob and Henrik.
As a student and scholar, Benzelius – Erik the Younger –
made a comprehensive educational tour in Europe for some
years. He established scholarly relations to the learned elite of
his time: Leibniz, Thomasius, Malebranche, and others. Back
in Uppsala Benzelius was after a couple of years (in 1702, at
the age of just 27!) appointed the Librarian of Uppsala
University. Though ungraduated, he was chosen for his wide
learning and for his fame of ‘wonder child’. And the choice
was lucky; the library was remarkably enriched under his
leadership, regarding quality as well as quantity. As a scholar,
a teacher, and a university official, Benzelius was
multidisciplinary. He was a ‘polyhistor’, interested in science
as well as in the humanities. As a lecturer, an editor, and a
founder of learned societies, he became an intellectual central
figure in Uppsala and in Sweden in general.
Junius’ and Stiernhielm’s editions of the Codex Argenteus had
opened up a new field of research: the Gothic language. The
editors had essentially paid attention to the Gothic
vocabulary, while the grammar was still virgin soil. However,
there were scholars eager to grapple with this aspect of the
language, but some of them suspected the published editions
to suffer from misreading and lacunas though they could not
verify it.

But Benzelius could, he had the codex in his hands. One day
in the beginning of his library career he began with some spot
tests. »One day«, he says, »I took it into my head to collate
some leaves of Cod. Argenteo with Editione Dordrechtana,
and as I found this not being correct, I went through all the
manuscript, supplementing infinitely many places.« But of
course the work went slowly, since Benzelius had many duties
and tasks of great moment. In 1706 Benzelius persuaded Lars
Roberg, professor of medicine, to make a facsimile page of the
manuscript in woodcut, and sent it to different persons. At the
same time he translated the Gothic text of the Codex Argenteus
into Latin, since he did not find the Vulgate suitable as a
parallel text. These measures were preliminaries. Now the
object was to get the King interested.
The King became interested or at least very positive to the
project, and this was very much thanks to offensive lobbying
efforts from Benzelius’ supporters. When Olof Rudbeck
obtained an audience with the King in Lund in the summer
1717, he used the opportunity for this purpose. On his way to
Lund, Rudbeck had met Count Carl Mörner, member of the
Royal Council, who also got very keen on Benzelius’ project
when he heard about it. Mörner too attended the King for the
same purpose and got a very positive response.
However, the following year 1718 was fatal for the Swedish
King Karl XII. The famous bullet at Halden during his
Norwegian raid crossed his head and ended his life. In this
situation it seemed impossible to Benzelius to base the project
on Swedish resources. Benzelius turned his eyes abroad. He
began to look for the Gothic types once cut by Junius and
found them in England, more specifically at Oxford
University, as we have seen earlier. So he began to negotiate
with English scholars, making plans, looking for partners and
looking for financial backing. These preparations went on for
several years in various stages.

Benzelius worked tirelessly with the project, though he had
left Uppsala to become Bishop of Gothenburg in 1726 and of
Linköping in 1731. In 1742 he was appointed Archbishop of
Uppsala and would have returned there if he had not died the
year after. However, the edition was published several years
after Benzelius’ death thanks to Benzelius’ English co-editor,
the vicar and philologist Edward Lye. Lye was skilled in the
Gothic language, as Benzelius had also become over the years.
The 1750 edition contains Benzelius’ collating of the
Gothic text and his translation into Latin. The Gothic text is
printed with Junius’ types. Moreover, there are critical and
grammatical commentaries by Benzelius, and also his preface
concerning the philological relations of the Gothic language
and Wulfila’s Bible translation. Lye’s contribution is a Gothic
grammar and several notes. The Eusebian section numbers are
noted in the margin, but the parallel tables are omitted.
Benzelius like the earlier editors had not, in spite of his
qualified philological achievement, been able to fill up all the
lacunae in the Gothic text. Perhaps he was afraid of later
critical voices when he wrote in his autobiographical notes: »I
could believe that many a one coming after me would say, that
in many places I have feigned what is supplemented, since he
cannot see primo intuitu the letters on the leaf; but be as diligent
as I: have that patience: use the glasses: turn the leaf so that not
too bright sunshine catches the purple colour: confere loca
parallela, and you will find them rightly as easy as I.«

Zahn's Edition 1805 – Johan Ihre & Erik Sotberg
Politics in Uppsala, but his passion was philology. His great
lifework was his Swedish etymological dictionary, Glossarium
Suiogothicum 1769. One of the sources he used in his dictionary
work was the Codex Argenteus, and he found like Benzelius that
Junius’ and Stiernhielm’s editions were insufficient. Perhaps
he was not aware of how far the Benzelius’ edition
preparations had advanced, or perhaps he did not expect the
Benzelius’ edition to be actually published. So he asked one of
his pupils, Erik Sotberg, to make a collation of the
manuscript. He found himself too purblind and too busy for
the task. When Benzelius’ edition finally reached Uppsala,
Ihre saw that Sotberg with his work had filled up many more
lacunae than Benzelius had, and the idea of making yet
another edition began to grow. Sotberg published his
deciphering in two dissertations in 1752 and 1755 under Ihre’s
presidency. The title was Ulphilas illustratus. In the preface of the
first of these dissertations Ihre introduces the theory about the
stamps: the Codex Argenteus was not written with a pen or a
calamus – the letters were burnt into the parchment with hot
stamps. In both dissertations Sotberg gives a Latin translation
of the parts of the text he deals with. Friesen and Grape say
that Sotberg’s reading of the manuscript is »... the greatest
progress in understanding the text made from the publication
of the editio princeps up to today« (1927).
Ihre did not succeed in publishing a new edition of the
Codex Argenteus. Sotberg had penetrated it once again and made
a complete copy of it. He had even made a calligraphic copy,
perhaps designed for the planned edition. In 1773 Ihre sent
Sotberg’s clean copy to the German scholar A.F. Büsching,
publisher of a collected edition of Ihre’s Gothic dissertations.
But Büsching had no better luck with publishing it. Sotberg’s

manuscript wandered through several hands. From one of its
owners the German clergyman Johann Christian Zahn (1767–
1818) gained access to it. Zahn managed to publish it in 1805
together with a Gothic grammar and a Gothic glossary by two
German scholars: Friedrich Karl Fulda and W.F.H. Ihre’s
Latin translation is printed between the Gothic text lines, and
his footnotes are printed at the bottom of the pages. Zahn
wrote the comprehensive introduction. Ihre’s name is
mentioned on the title page, but not Sotberg’s. The Gothic
text in this edition is printed in Latin type in a special
transliteration also used in Ulphilas illustratus and in Ihre’s
works, however here somewhat improved by Zahn. The
edition is dedicated to the Swedish King Gustav VI Adolf, but
in the list of subscribers there are no traces of Swedish

Gabelentz & Löbe 1836
(1807–1874) and Julius Löbe (1805–1900) included all remnants
of Wulfila’s Bible translation in their edition. This meant not
only the Codex Argenteus, but also the Codex Carolinus and the
palimpsests preserved in Italy, discovered in 1817. For this
work Löbe spent four weeks in Uppsala during the summer of
1834 collating the Codex Argenteus. At this time a rivalry had
arisen between the tourists and the serious scholars. Löbe was
very concerned about the poor condition of the codex, and
that tourists had priority over scholars concerning access. »We
had not imagined that the manuscript would be in such bad
condition«, he says, »always listening to the praising of its
beauty concerning material and script. First we had the
daylong work finding the sequence of the unordered leaves,
and then the often hour-long work with just one passage, and
so the interruptions of the difficult work when the quite
frequently tourists must take the manuscript into their hands
and look at it. This diminished even more the time we had
hoped to spend on an extended comparison of it.«
The text edition was the first volume of Gabelentz’ and
Löbe’s work. Volume 2:1 was published in 1843 and had the
title Glossarium der gotischen Sprache. Volume 2:2, 1846, had the
title Grammatik der gotischen Sprache. In Gabelentz’ and Löbe’s
edition the Gothic text is printed in transliteration in Latin

Uppström 1854 & 1857
ANDERS UPPSTRÖM (1806–65) BECAME Professor of
‘Moesogothic and Related Languages’ at Uppsala University in
1859. This was after his edition of the Codex Argenteus. When it
was published in 1854, ten leaves of the manuscript were
missing. Three years later he could complete his edition with
these ten leaves, now recovered.
Already when Julius Löbe worked with his collations of the
Codex Argenteus during the summer of 1834, it was realised that
ten leaves from the manuscript, earlier in place in the Codex,
were missing. It was a matter of scandalous dimensions, of
course. It was unknown how the leaves had disappeared, and
when. The loss was kept a secret and it was not admitted to
until a couple of years later. And even then, the matter was
kept under wraps. When Uppström was working with his
edition of the Codex Argenteus, the lack of these ten leaves was
very irritating to him. The leaves had been lost for a long
time, and this state was commonly known. But Uppström
could not accept the lacuna in the manuscript; he wanted to
get to the bottom of the matter.
Uppström was met with no positive response from Johan
Henrik Schröder, the Librarian, in his searching for the ten
missing leaves. However, he happened to ask the old library
messenger Lars Wallin about the leaves. Uppström’s more
than two years’ long dialogue with Wallin is a fascinating
story for itself. A month before his death, Wallin gives
Uppströn the ten missing leaves when Uppström is visiting
him at his sickbed. Wallin does not admit that he is the thief
of the leaves, but Uppström thinks that he is. Nevertheless, in
his preface to his edition of the missing leaves, Uppström
writes very warmly about Wallin and says: »… I cannot avoid
feeling grateful to the deceased who gave me back what he
could have easily destroyed forever. And though I hate his

crime, I wish with all my heart that the creator of the world
may prove to be a mild rather than severe judge.«
Uppström’s edition gives the text of the manuscript
transliterated into Latin letters with pages and lines marked
out. The text is ordered by chapters and passages in a ‘modern’
manner, but the Eusebian division into sections is also marked
out, as well as the gold script, the enlarged initials, and the
dissolved abbreviatures and ligatures. In a supplement the
parallel numbers in the canon tables under the text are noted,
and in another supplement there is an overview of the original
and the still existing leaves of the manuscript. »Uppström has
practically ... reached the definitive, and as a philological deed
his work is final« according to Friesen and Grape.

The Facsimile Edition of 1927
Uppsala University, and in 1926 he was awarded the Nobel
Prize for Chemistry. He was, among other things, very
fascinated by the problems of detecting, revealing and
restoring lost and invisible text passages in manuscripts with
the help of photographic techniques. Together with Dr. Ivar
Nordlund he performed photographic experiments on some
leaves of the Codex Argenteus in 1917.
This experimentation was a pilot study to prepare a great
facsimile edition of the Codex where the most important
aspect was to be the legibility of the text. The edition was
planned as – and became – a jubilee manifestation for the 450th
anniversary of Uppsala University in 1927. Svedberg and
Nordlund carried out photographic experiments using four
different techniques. Two of these techniques were later used
for the edition. One of them was to show the page exposed in
ultraviolet reflected radiation, which made the text appear
light on a dark background. The other one was to use a
fluorescent technique, which made the text appear dark on a
light background. However, none of these techniques made
the golden parts of the text show up very well. Consequently
the difficult-to-decipher pages in golden ink were also
presented as supplementary images on a reduced scale. These
were made by using three different techniques: using a yellow
filter, using X-rays, and using oblique lighting.
For the photography work of the 1927 edition, a special
workshop was established in the basement of Carolina
Rediviva, the main building of Uppsala University Library. A
specially constructed camera for the purpose was bought from
A.W. Penrose & Co. in London. The X-ray work was done at
the radiotherapy department of Uppsala University Hospital.

The research assistant Hugo Andersson was the photographer
during the project.
In addition to the images of the pages in the Codex Argenteus,
the 1927 edition also contains an exhaustive introduction in
Latin by Otto von Friesen, Professor of the Swedish Language
at Uppsala University, and Anders Grape, later on the Chief
Librarian of Uppsala University. Hugo Andersson wrote an
appendix in English concerning the photographic procedure.
The facsimile edition of 1927 was printed by Malmö

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